Today’s post is part of The Next Big Thing blog hop that’s been going on among writers for a few weeks now (I’m a little late to the game, been kind of busy with Thanksgiving and work and getting engaged and all). I was invited to participate by a Twitter friend and author, Kendra C. Highley, who I met through the fundraiser Crits for Water. Kendra’s Matt Archer: Monster Hunter is a fast-paced, action-filled, spooky adventure, and I’m looking forward to her Next Big Thing, the sequel Matt Archer: Blade’s Edge, at the end of the month.
My own Next Big Thing is the upcoming release in March 2013 of my first novel. My first novel. That sounds fantastic.
What is the working title of your book? From the Tea Village
Where did you get the idea for the book? A few years back, after reading Twilight in a 24-hour period and lamenting the loss of a day of my life reading such a poorly written book (sorry, Twilight fanatics, facts are facts), it occured to me that I could write YA lit just as well as some of the best-selling authors out there. I’m embarrassed to admit such an exceedingly arrogant yet naive sentiment now, though at the time it was just the impetus I needed to start writing a longer work than a blog post. Around the same time, I began interviewing my friend Lydia about her childhood in a Bulang village, and the idea for a series of books with her as the main character was born.
What genre does your book fall under? Young Adult (middle grade) multi-cultural set in Yunnan, China
Which actors would you choose to play your characters in a movie rendition? Well, the book takes place in rural Yunnan, so the actors would need to be Southeast Asian for the characters who are Bulang or other ethnic groups, with a few Chinese actors for the Han characters. I don’t watch a lot of Asian film, but I’ve admired Chow Yun Fat in a couple of movies — he would make a good Jiang Lao Shi. Beyond that, I’m at a loss!
What is the one-sentence synopsis of your book? A Bulang girl, Ye Sun, struggles to reconcile her village background with the desire of her heart to study at a Chinese school, where she learns both her academic subjects and the depth of friendship in the face of tragic circumstances.
Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Self-published, baby!
How long did it take you to write the first draft of your manuscript? I interviewed Lydia and transcribed and organized the notes of her biography from October 2009 to March 2010. I wrote the outline for this one-year segment of her story and began writing the first draft in July 2010 and finished it in October 2010.
What other books would you compare this story to within your genre? I’m nervous about comparing Tea Village to other books, but before and during the writing and revising process, I read and was inspired by Bamboo People by Mitali Perkins, Shabanu by Suzanne Fisher Staples, and Tangled Threads: A Hmong Girl’s Story by Pegi Deitz Shea.
Who or what inspired you to write this book? My main inspiration was Lydia, the Bulang girl who lived in my home during her senior year of high school and became my dearest friend in China. As I wrote, I had young American girls in mind as readers, in particular my nieces Patience and Haley.
What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? This isn’t the book for someone looking for intense action or romance. It’s a glimpse into the heart of a girl in a land so different from the U.S. and other places in the Western world, yet the people of Yunnan have the same goals and desires of anyone anywhere in the world.
The point of this blog hop was to tag other authors who have upcoming book projects that they’d like to promote, but I honestly don’t know anyone else to tag who hasn’t already been tagged. Instead, I’m going to mention a few of my blog-writing friends who I love dearly and believe could write books of their own that would be well worth the read. These bloggers might not have any books in the works right now, but each of us has our own Next Big Thing — and I just want to acknowledge a few ladies who inspire me with their writing.
My good friend Jen Anderson blogged throughout last year on Jen’s Journey to 40 about her pursuit of a healthier lifestyle leading up to a milestone birthday, but lately she’s written more for the website Single Roots than for her own blog. I particularly enjoyed her recent article about transitioning into her new life as the single foster mother of four teenagers (and foster grandmother to a one-year-old!).
Roxie McCutcheon (who I met working in Yunnan many years back) started a fantastic new blog called Crunchy in the Panhandle where she shares tips with folks in her corner of West Virginia who are trying to eat local, organic, and whole foods. I like to call Roxie my whole foods guru — I call and text her with random questions about coconut oil and gluten-free recipes, and she’s always able to answer right away like the pro that she is, or at the very least point me to an online resource where I can find answers. Even though I live in Texas, her West Virgina blog has been a help to me.
Another Yunnan friend, Erin Kimsey, recently began blogging about her experiences transitioning from non-profit work in a small border town to working for the U.S. Foreign Service in Shanghai — what a change! Erin is insightful and intelligent, and I appreciate her perspective on a variety of subjects.
Last but not least, Gillian Schweighardt is a friend I met in Washington who is now living in Vienna. I absolutely love reading about her family’s adventures and her thoughts on life. Her stories and reflections challenge and encourage me while making me chuckle — a great combination.
So, there you have it. Thanks for playing along and letting me ramble about my Next Big Thing.